We're moving Forums to the Community pages. Click here for more information and updates.

Animal Practice: Welcome to Animal House

Animal Practice S01E01: "Pilot"

Pilots gonna pilot, and the first episode of NBC's highly anticipated* Animal Practice reeks of pilotitis and studio notes getting in the way of what could be a decent comedy. That's not to say you should put the series in a shoe box and bury it in the backyard (or throw it on the BBQ because why waste good meat like my grandpa always said) just yet. I'm still convinced the show's premise—a cranky chief vet at the nation's largest animal hospital—is strong enough to pull this sitcom through once all the kinks are worked out.

(* by monkey lovers)

If you pay attention to any critics' chatter, you know the big draw and early talking point of Animal Practice: It's the one with the monkey (Crystal, who plays Annie's Boobs on Community and who was also in The Hangover). But wait! There's more! Justin Kirk (who is great on Weeds as Andy) stars as Dr. George Coleman, a brilliant veterinarian who loves animals but hates people yet loves women, or at least getting in their trou. In the opening minutes of the pilot, his position as chief honcho is threatened by the new owner of the animal hospital, stick-up-her-butt Dorothy Crane (Joanna Garcia-Swisher), the granddaughter who inherited the building after granny kicked it. She's predictably not on board with Coleman's methods, which mostly involve berating the humans who bring their pets in for treatment. And yes, the doc and Dorothy used to be in a romantic relationship, like duh obviously (LDO). Bobby Lee, Betsy Sodaro, and Tyler Labine (who's still searching for the quality project he deserves) play bumbling vets suitably caricatured for Animal Practice's wacky tone, but there's nothing smart about their antics. In one gag that is a real patience-tester, Lee's character is slowly constricted by a large snake. In another, Sodaro painfully points out the already obvious sexual tension with schoolyard taunts, just in case the audience is too comatose (or in NBC's eyes, stupid) to pick up on it.

But even though many of the jokes in the pilot fall flat, the idea of parodying the medical-drama genre in the world of an animal hospital is too good to pass up. Matt Walsh (Veep) as a dog owner who would rather just put his daughter's dog down instead of spending money on life-saving surgery is a great example of the twisted humor Animal Practice could thrive on. And the opening bit of a cat choosing suicide by jumping off a building instead of having to sit through another episode of Wendy Williams with its crazy cat lady owner shows how Animal Practice is sitting on a gold mine of skewering human behavior through the lens of animals and animal lovers.

Though they're the biggest problem in the pilot, I'm less worried about the homo sapien characters on the show, because with few exceptions, most characters in the first half-hour of a comedy are atrocious and take several episodes to blossom. Remember the first impression that Jeff Winger made on Community? Yes, George Coleman is about a quarter of a developed character right now, and his back-and-forth with Dorothy is currently at a Sitcom 101 level, but that has a very good chance of sorting itself out in later episodes.

What's more concerning is how Animal Practice will use its critters. That's not to say animals aren't people too, but the creatures need to be devices that reflect the personalities and circumstances of the humans, whether those humans are owners or doctors. The easy route, or in NBC's terms, the "broader route," would be to parade the animals around for cheap sight gags, but the thing that will bring viewers back are the people.

I really want to like Animal Practice and I'm confident that it could be good, but it can only go one of two ways. It either fulfills its potential as a zany comedy or goes lowbrow and comes off as an extended series of animal-based YouTube videos. Sorry, Crystal!


RELATED STORY: Watch the Pilot of Animal Practice Now


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (16)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Just got around to watching this. It has A LOT of potential, especially because of the animals and Justin Kirk... but the pilot kind of sucked. The pacing was all over the place -- what a mess -- and a lot of the jokes didn't hit.



Also, the side characters are too forced. As I feared, Bobby Lee is quite painful to watch. I don't know how much of his stuff is written by others and how much is his doing, but him and/or his character is really annoying. Tyler Labine wasn't as annoying as I feared he could be, but he was quite boring. The crazy girl is also quite annoying, but has more potential than Yamamoto.
Reply
Flag
I wish they would have dropped the womanizer aspect of his character. It's so overdone and didn't add anything. Also would have made the hating humans part of him more realistic. I did like Garcia's character. I didn't think see seemed stuck-up-her-butt at all. She seemed like a nice woman who cared more about the animals than the vet did.
Reply
Flag
Didn't suck, but I don't see it lasting any longer than Go On. I liked the monkey, but that's part of why I don't think the show will work. I can't see them watching an animal show for long.



And that Korean guy isn't funny at all. Just painful. The weird girl wasn't bad. She might work out.
Reply
Flag
The idea is potentially good, but I simply didn't buy Kirk as an animal-loving doctor. The character showed that he disliked humans plenty. He gave the animals medical treatment when necessary, but was never seen patting a cat or playing with a dog. Instead he uses his poor monkey to display antics, and explore other animals like in that race of the final gag. The character has to make much greater progress towards animal appreciation.
Reply
Flag
Justin Kirk is the best, and this show will be the best soon enough. Loved it! Kirk + Bobby Lee + Tyler Labine = this show needs to be on the air for at least 3 years!
Reply
Flag
You have give shows more than just their pilot episode to develop; I think Animal Practice has real potential to be a great comedy, especially with Justin Kirk on the cast. I wasn't able to watch the pilot from home, but I did catch a few minutes on the Dish Remote Access App for my iPad. I've been able to watch live and recorded shows on my DVR. I finished the episode on my morning commute to Dish and still feel that the show needs a few more episodes to prove itself.
Reply
Flag
so disappointed... but, it's my own fault. when this first came out someone here on tv.com said it'd house, but with animals. developed really high expectations. i love justin kirk, but he's not pulling off the "hates everyone" vibe at all, let alone like house.
Reply
Flag
It was hit and miss, but there was a lot to like in the pilot.



Anyone who watches Weeds knows Justin Kirk, and he's good here. Not great yet, but can be once he settles in. Joanna Garcia is adorable and attractive and probably a good casting replacement choice made by the network. Besty Sodaro I had never heard of before, but she was easily the most appealing of the human sidekicks. I felt like her overt bluntness was socially awkward cluelessness on her part, not ours. Tyler Labine is a brash, ballsy, hilarious person - but not here. This is not the role for him and a complete waste of his talent. If they could tweak it and make it more like his slacker role on Reaper, he would knock it out of the park. Kym Whitley was likable and at first glance I swore she was Jackee Harry (they could be twins). Bobby Lee's character was the worst of all. What a ridiculous buffoon caricature. That fake hair and mustache, the bad sometimes accent, the horrible sight gags. Ooof. Please delete this character from the show ASAP. If they'd just let him look and sound like Bobby Lee actually does from the start, the rest might have been slightly more tolerable.



The star of the show was, of course, the Doctor monkey! And when it worked, it worked well! Some very laugh out loud moments (like "He's just on his rounds"). Like Tim said, there's a goldmine of opportunity here and with a few tweaks, this can become a pretty enjoyable comedy. But hey, it's NBC - so take that for what it's worth.



Check it out and let's see where they go with it.
More+
Reply
Flag
I liked the pilot a few times here and there and saw some potential, but they kept squandering opportunities and wasting time with stupid plots and dialogue. First of all, the main doctor doesn't seem like he is a great vet, he just seems like an unprofessional guy pretending to be a vet, who says he loves animals, but doesn't seem to care any more about them than the people. Mostly and only he just wants to get some action. Booooorrrring...



And, I don't think the casting was quite right. When I heard that Tyler Labine was involved in this show and the basic premise of it, I just assumed that he would be playing the main silly, philandering vet, but instead he is in this weak, wussy role that isn't funny at all. What? Tyler Labine plays cocky, funny, sexually sure of himself so well, and I think would have been a better choice for Dr. Coleman.



And then there is that vulgar and ridiculous Angela character. Such a cliched caricature... I feel like they are trying to reproduce Melissa McCarthy's character in Bridesmaids, but take only the worst parts of her, and without any of the heart of that character, so Angela just seems gratingly out of place, instead of somehow funny despite/because of her quirks...



And, that whole plot where the vet yells at the father who doesn't want to pay $2000 for surgery on the dog, and act like he is evil incarnate for thinking that is a lot of money. The vet then starts insulting and threatening the customer and tells him he better pay for it and like it! WTF?? All they had to do was say, oh, little girl, your daddy would rather let your sweet dog die than pay to save her, and do it cleverly, without resorting to this unbelievable and silly and unprofessional behavior that turned what should have been a minor subplot that illustrated how clever Dr. Coleman was instead of a long, drawn-out pointless plot that ends up making him look like a buffoon. Seriously, how can you take his side when he acts like such a childish moron?



Sorry, I actually didn't hate the show, I just felt like they wasted so much potential for this to be a better show, that it annoys me. They need to have the writers watch several episodes of Better Off Ted to see how to do quirky, silly and funny right. Hopefully they'll drop some of the show's deadweight before the official premiere and utilize the potential better here.
More+
Reply
Flag
It was bad IMO! I only watched ten minutes!
Reply
Flag
I really enjoyed Crystal, wasn't crazy about some of the doctors, especially Yamamoto, the writers must of though he was funny, I just thought he was annoying.
Reply
Flag
So many people and critics were bashing on this show, and when I ended up watching it, it wasn't as bad as people were making it out to be. I'll watch more of it.
Reply
Flag
Its better than any show with the words "girl or girls" in it!

Love the monkee, and Tyler!!!!

Will probably be cancelled though!!!!!
Reply
Flag
It's. "Girl" or "Girls". Monkey. You're welcome.
Reply
Flag
Sadie Saxton, is that you?!
Reply
Flag
Hey, are you saying something about New Girl? That show turned out awesome.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook